Tag Archives: Blogging

Having Blogged for Four Years

Arboretum

Photo taken at the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden

. . . I wonder if this is the only anniversary in my life that matters. I started this blog four years ago. Hopefully, the quality of posts has improved just as the quality of the world has diminished.

I’m knee-deep in the first semester in my third college program, this time an MFA in creative nonfiction. Since October 27, 2016, I have started a blog series about the Russian Revolution, had one essay published and one short story published, finished my Master’s degree in English, and moved from Nebraska to Idaho. I’ve also started writing for the Idaho MFA blog, reading nonfiction submissions for Fugue, and volunteering as an editorial assistant for Western American Literature. My literary life has expanded substantially in a year, and yet I’m still ambitious. I have writing and reading to finish, journals to curate, places to visit, sweeping political generalizations to make.

This has been a rough year for the country and the planet. Regardless, I will blog away into oblivion. Here’s to another year.

-jk

The Workaholic Catches Cabin Fever

author-pic-5This weekend, an ice storm fluttered over eastern Nebraska, coating Lincoln in thin layers of slick ice and making it difficult to drive or walk. It has warmed up today, but UNL cancelled classes. I left my apartment only once this weekend for the sacred ritual of movies and food. Otherwise I’ve been inside my apartment avoiding the weather’s risks.

Granted, Lincoln is usually dangerous because the sidewalks are coated in football players’ sweat and the ejaculatory spittle of Governor Pete Ricketts as he laughs at Nebraskan voters from the golden tower overlooking the city, but this weekend it was especially dangerous.

Regular readers of this blog know that I partly enjoy bad weather, especially if it involves snow. It allows me to stay inside, drink coffee, write, and read. I freely admit that I’m a workaholic. I maintain a strict work ethic, in part because it nags me to have unfinished tasks. Knowing I have a deadline coming up feels like hot, smelly breath on my neck, which is also the sensation I have when I look at the face of P. Ricketts. I work hard in order to avoid having things gnaw at me.

This weekend, though, I had few deadlines that I could meet from home. I have yet to receive papers for grading or major assignments to begin. I forced myself to plunge back into the habit of writing regularly, which I had lost over winter break, and what writing I did was weak and unsatisfying.

For once, I wasn’t productive, though society doesn’t normally benefit from my labor. The hours I put into writing, revising, submitting, and making fun of politicians usually go unnoticed, especially by politicians named Pricketts. I’m a workaholic, but I realized this weekend that I’m not a productive workaholic.

I realized that I deal in temporary moments. When I produce, it’s usually particular instances, things that dissipate into the air. As a teacher, I produce lessons, rather than capital. As a writer, I produce reactions and responses, usually from my loyal readership of five people, my dog, and maybe even Pricketts the Farmer of Nebraskan Tears. I’d like to think I produce moments of companionship, like the hairy dog I’m quickly becoming. What I obsessively create doesn’t last. Lessons, reactions, and responses always melt, one way or another, but I still enjoy producing them. Nobody gains capital as a result, but maybe they gain affirmation, if I work hard enough.

I could do very little affirming from my apartment while sheets of ice formed in the freezing rainfall. I still prefer the snowy weather, but I’m glad to be out and about writing, wandering, and listening.

-jk

Apparently I’ve Been Blogging for Three Years

all-skull-and-bibles

A photo I took exactly three years ago.

I don’t tend to celebrate anniversaries. I don’t actively celebrate my birthday and I ignore my country’s independence day. But WordPress insists on reminding me that I started this blog three years ago, and I may as well mark the occasion.

Since my last blogiversary, I’ve attended a rad academic conference in Albuquerque, had poems, a short story, and a nonfiction essay published, and visited multiple national parks. I’ve completed a draft of my creative writing Master’s Thesis, a collection of interconnected short historical fiction stories (is there a more pretentious phrase? If so, I’ll find it), as well as poetry collections and essays. My writing has improved (I think), and I’ve developed a better understanding of literature.

I’ve also been in Nebraska for over a year, and my relocation here has started to set in. I’m finding a community in Lincoln. I’m forming connections with friends and colleagues. Sadly, I may be leaving again for another graduate program. Once again, I’ve decided to apply to graduate programs to pursue either a PhD or MFA program, and once again, I have no idea where I’ll be living a year from now.

But wherever I am, I’ll at least have a blog. It may not be much, but if I leave my friends, colleagues, and relations, if I leave them all behind for another new start in another state and another program, I’ll still have this little journal of my affairs. It may not be much, but it can be a grounding ritual, or a way to kill time. In either case, I enjoy it.

Wherever I am, wherever I will be, wherever I’ve come from, here’s to three years of fairly sporadic blogging. Cheers, peace, and until another autumn.

Peace,

-jk

Some Kind of Blogging Award

sunshine-blogger-awardI’m honored that fellow blogger Charles French has recognized me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (even though it’s completely overcast and raining in Lincoln right now). Nevertheless, I’m very thankful for the recognition! I’ve never actually received one of these blogging awards I’ve heard so much about, but from what I gather, they are ways to recognize other bloggers for doing cool things (or tasty or artsy or sciencey things, depending on context).

The Rules for the award:

1. Thank the person that nominated you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from your nominator.

3. Nominate and notify 11 bloggers.

4. Give them 11 questions to answer.

The questions I was given, and my answers, are as follows:

1.) If you could visit any country that you have never been to, where would you go? I’ve always wanted to visit Afghanistan.

2.) What is your favorite book? Impossible to name just one, so I’ll split it between fiction (Sum by David Eagleman), poetry (The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail), and drama (Wit by Margaret Edson).

3.) Coffee or tea? While I enjoy both, I strongly prefer coffee.

4.) What is your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast. It combines waffles, coffee, syrup, coffee, and powdered sugar, in my coffee.

5.) What do you think is the most pressing issue of the day? I think climate change is the most pressing issue of the day, which is why I’m voting for Treebeard of the Ent Party this election, on a platform of reforestation and smashing society with large boulders. #feeltheboulders

6.) Are you a day or night person? I’m a morning person, until only a few weeks are left in the semester, at which point I stay awake day and night cramming.

7.) What is your favorite snack? Cheese quesadilla with diced bell peppers (plus coffee).

8.) What is the time period for which you have the most interest? I’m most interested in the period immediately after the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War, but the inter-war period (1918-1939) is a close second.

9.) Movie or live theater? I’ve come to enjoy live theater more and more in recent years.

10.) What is your favorite season? I love winter, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a romantic introvert or just like it when everything is cold and dead. I’ll say the first one.

11.) Dog or cat? Again, while I enjoy both, dogs are obviously superior to cats in every way and fill me with immeasurable joy.

Now I need to nominate more bloggers. I’m choosing blogs I always look forward to reading, ones I find delightful and thoughtful. My list is as follows:

Hanna McCall at https://proofreaderhannah.com/

The Twenty Something Social Recluse

Annamarie Carlson at https://annamarieabroad.wordpress.com/

Lois Elsden

Robert Okaji at O At the Edges

Hummings

Simon Bowler at https://simonbowlerphotos.wordpress.com/

M Weaver at https://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/

J. W. Eberle at https://jweberle.com/

Chris Helzer at The Prairie Ecologist

Lizzy Nichols at The Lizzysaurus

My questions, if you choose to accept, are as follows:

  1. What book are you reading now, or are eager to start?
  2. What music do you listen to while working (if anything)?
  3. What is the most useful tool for your work or hobbies?
  4. The Grim Reaper rings your doorbell; you challenge the Reaper to a board game, and if you win you won’t be taken to Hades; what board game do you choose?
  5. What is your ideal pet (apart from a domesticated Grim Reaper)?
  6. Is there a past (or future) decade for which you are nostalgic? If so, what and why?
  7. What is your best method for coping with stress? (I swear I’m not asking because I’m stressed. I swear).
  8. How do you celebrate a major achievement or accomplishment?
  9. What is your preferred mode of transportation (bike, plane, feet, racing team of twelve congresspeople tied to a sled, etc.)?
  10. Where do you do most of your work (home, office, school department, coffee shop, in a sled pulled by twelve congresspeople)?
  11. And lastly, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could get a law degree from Harvard and join a lobby group on behalf of small locally owned and operated woodchucking facilities and successfully bring down Big Wood and their death grip on the international woodchucking industry?

Peace and happy blogging,

-jk

 

A Public Apology From This Blog

FOE

It has come to my attention that there is a slight possibility that some readers of this blog might find my portrayal of writers to be unfair.

It was not my intention to portray writers as living in the excesses of caffeine, alcohol, or both, or as people who experiment with certain stimulants that some states have outlawed. I did not intend to give the impression that writers are difficult people who have trouble coping with rejection, or that they have limited social skills. I also had no intention of portraying writers as hyper-critical egomaniacs who write for revenge, and who publish unflattering stories about their friends and families when they feel resentful of their almost constant sense of rejection by publishers, friends, strangers, and that guy at the bookstore with the mustache.

Additionally, it was not my intention to portray writers as the kind of people who use creative writing workshops as a means to external validation by submitting work that has already been accepted for publication, to insist upon the value and merit of their submitted workshop material on the basis that it has been accepted for publication, while simultaneously engaging in pretentious, esoteric discussions of craft that have little, if anything, to do with the actual content of their peers’ work, leading their peers, instructors, loved ones, and Rick from the bookstore to question if they ever actually read their peers’ work and merely have a list of bland, useless comments that can easily apply to any written work, or as people who spend their time rubbing their toes on others’ property and rummaging through Rick’s medicine cabinet when he’s not looking, and who drunk text their lovers at 2:34 in the morning while standing outside Rick’s house and wondering why Marsha’s car is there, or as the sort of people who deliberately loan you their sunglasses when they have pinkeye and leave their beard shavings in your glove compartment.

It was not my intention to portray writers this way, but I can understand why some readers might think that I had such an agenda in mind.

While I’m at it, my lawyers inform me I should apologize for my portrayal of historians. Any interpretation of historians, based on this blog, as resentful, conceited, pretentious, hyper-liberal anti-social Harvard rejects who hate their countries and take pleasure in reducing anybody’s joy in holidays to a crime against humanity and who spend their free time burning copies of the U.S. Constitution in their backyards in their underwear in a massive green cloud of pot smoke, is merely a misunderstanding.

As always, I thank you for your concerns about my portrayal of people on this blog.

-jk

After Two Years of Blogging, Your Guess is Still as Good as Mine

toastWordPress reminded me that today is my two-year blogiversary. I missed last year’s for the obvious reasons (grad school applications, Macbeth, mud wrestling, etc.). Today, though, I slide two years into the past when I was surrounded by the mess of my education: Beloved, essays on the Holocaust, a textbook on linguistics, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, and drafts of my own poetry. The liberal arts defined my life, but lacked definition; in a confused fervor I wrote my first blog post asking simply, why get a liberal education in the first place?

Two years have gone by. I created this blog to explore the liberal arts generally, the life of a wannabe writer specifically. At varying times, it has served as an open journal, editorial, bully pulpit, and archive of my writing. I started out posting short vignettes satirizing myself as a freshman, but moved on to better creative writing, philosophy, travelogues, history, and humor. If my blog feels eclectic, it’s only because my brain is eclectic. I move rapidly from Steinbeck to colonial Egypt to writing a short story. This blog is one part journal, one part art, and one part scholarship, with three extra parts marked “miscellaneous.” I strive to make sure no two posts are alike, which may be a bad idea when blogging is supposed to be about consistency and ritual, two qualities I lack.

I’ve explored numerous moments in my life on this blog: I mourned Pete Seeger, challenged myself to write a poem every day each April, founded a photography business, announced publications, had breakfast in Ireland, lunch in Jerome, dinner in Wisconsin, went to my first big fancy writing conference, broke up with my hometown of twenty years for graduate school in Nebraska.

For the most part, though, I’ve read, and written about what I read, and read what others wrote about what I wrote about what I read. An endless reading list is the bedrock of any good liberal education.

Liberal Education

On this blog, I’ve also reached many half-baked conclusions, but one thing has remained clear post after post: a good liberal education is worthless if it stays inside the classroom. Sitting around reading and writing is no way to be a writer, if it’s all I do. I have to experiment with baking or acting, work for a charity, travel, read for a literary journal. I should traverse the gridlock of cities, the innards of bars, the vast organs of campsites. My blog may be ineffectively unconventional; the only binding theme is the continual mess of my lifelong education and my desire to be a writer. But I know blogging has made me a better writer, a more considerate reader, a more confident thinker. It’s been an eclectic two years. I hope the next two will be even more eclectic.

jk

Why a liberal education? Your guess is as good as mine, and I mean that. If you’re engaged in the liberal arts, especially outside of academia, let me know in the comments what you study or write or create, and why.

-jk